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4 Tank Mates for Red Devil Cichlids (With Pictures)

Lindsey Stanton Profile Picture

By Lindsey Stanton

Red devil cichlid

If you’re looking to add a tank mate for your Red Devil Cichlid, you’re not alone. While these are awesome-looking fish, if you pair them up with the wrong tank mate, things can get ugly fast.

Here, we highlighted four compatible tank mates for your Red Devil Cichlid. But before you head out and purchase any of them, read the rest of this guide, or you still might have problems.

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The 4 Tank Mates for Red Devil Cichlids Are:

1. Tire Track Eel (Mastacembelus armatus)

tire track eel
Image Credit: Vince Adam, Shutterstock
Size: 26 inches
Diet: Carnivore
Minimum tank size: 125 gallons
Care Level: Medium
Temperament: Semi-aggressive

Eels might not be the first thing that you think of adding to your tank, but if you’re looking for a fish that can live peacefully with a Red Devil Cichlid, the Tire Track Eel is a great choice.

They hang out at the bottom of the tank and often burrow under the substrate, which means there’s less chance of them getting into fights with the Red Devil Cichlid.

2. Plecos (Hypostomus plecostomus)

Hypostomus Plecostomus
Image Credit: You Touch Pix of EuToch, Shutterstock
Size: 12 inches
Diet: Algae
Minimum tank size: 100 gallons
Care Level: Low
Temperament: Peaceful

Every tank needs an algae eater, and Plecos are great algae eaters that are large enough to avoid the dangers of living with a Red Devil Cichlid.

Plecos are bottom-feeding fish, but they’ll head wherever there’s algae to eat. Since the Red Devil Cichlid loves a tank full of decorations, plants, and rocks, there should be plenty of algae for them to eat.

3. Oscar Fish (Astronotus ocellatus)

black and orange oscar fish
Image Credit: slowmotiongli, Shutterstock
Size: 12 to 15 inches
Diet: Carnivore
Minimum tank size: 55 gallons
Care Level: Medium
Temperament: Semi-aggressive

While the Red Devil Cichlid might enjoy spending most of their time near the bottom of the tank, Oscar fish are mid- to top-level swimmers. This means less time near each other, which leads to fewer fights.

Since Oscar Fish and the Red Devil Cichlid are about the same size, the chance of them trying to eat each other is slim to none. Just keep in mind that they’ll still need plenty of space, even if they do enjoy different levels in the tank.

4. Jaguar Cichlid (Parachromis managuensis)

jaguar cichlid
Image Credit: VallaV, Shutterstock
Size: 16 to 24 inches
Diet: Carnivore
Minimum tank size: 70 gallons
Care Level: Medium
Temperament: Semi-aggressive

If you’re thinking of giving your Red Devil Cichlid a tank mate, why not go with another cichlid? While they’ll still need plenty of space, you don’t have to worry about different water parameters, tank setups, or anything new.

Just get a large enough tank, set up everything, and add an appropriately sized cichlid! Since they come in so many color varieties, it doesn’t mean you’ll have a bunch of the same-looking fish either.

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What Makes a Good Tank Mate for Red Devil Cichlid?

If you’re getting a tank mate for a Red Devil Cichlid, the most important thing that you need to look at is their size. It doesn’t matter how large the tank is. If the Red Devil Cichlid can eat the new addition, they will.

You also need to get a fish that’s not overly aggressive but should be able to stand up for themselves if needed. The Red Devil Cichlid is territorial and can push their tank mate around and take over the entire tank, they will.

Where Do Red Devil Cichlids Prefer to Live in the Aquarium?

Red Devil Cichlids are primarily bottom-dwelling fish, but that doesn’t mean they won’t come up toward the surface from time to time. They also aren’t bottom feeders, so they typically don’t rest on the bottom of the aquarium. This is an important distinction if you’re looking to add an eel or even a pleco. Still, you should expect them to spend most of their day near the bottom of the tank.

Red devil cichlid inside tank
Image Credit: Anney_Lier, Shutterstock

Water Parameters

The Red Devil Cichlid is a freshwater fish, and keeping up with their water parameters is relatively easy. The temperature should remain between 75 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit, and this is simple to do with a tank heater.

From there, you need to keep the pH between 6.5 and 7.5, and the hardiness level should stay between 6 and 25 dGH. This may sound intense, but keeping the parameter at these levels is relatively straightforward.


Red Devil Cichlids are territorial, and as such, you need to give them enough room to establish a territory without running into the other fish. For a single Red Devil Cichlid, you need at least a 55-gallon tank. For a breeding pair, you need to more than double that size to 125 gallons. For tanks with other fish types, you need at least 200 gallons!

It’s a big jump in both size and price, but if you don’t have enough space, you’ll have fish fights to the death in your tank.

Aggressive Behaviors

There’s little doubt that the Red Devil Cichlid has aggressive tendencies. Chief among these are their territorial tendencies. Red Devil Cichlids establish a region as their own, and they’ll go after any fish that enters it.

Also, if something fits in their mouth, it’s food. Smaller fish don’t stand a chance around the Red Devil Cichlid. This is important to remember when adding new fish. Even if they’ll grow to a larger size, when they’re small, they’re food for your cichlid.

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Top 3 Benefits of Having Tank Mates for Red Devil Cichlids in Your Aquarium

1. A More Beautiful Aquarium

More fish in the aquarium gives you more variety to look at, which is arguably one of the biggest reasons for getting an aquarium in the first place! So, while adding a tank mate won’t necessarily make your Red Devil Cichlid any happier, it can make for a more aesthetically pleasing aquarium.

2. Breeding

If you want to turn two fish into four, you’ll need to breed them, and the only way to do that is to give them a tank mate. Just know that Red Devil Cichlids will fight with others of the same species, which means breeding can be hit or miss.

3. Algae Control

If you’re adding a pleco to your tank, you’re reaping algae-clearing results. A Red Devil Cichlid alone will leave your tank full of algae. A Red Devil Cichlid and a Pleco together can give you an algae-free tank.

Red devil cichlid inside tank
Image Credit: Anney_Lier, Shutterstock

Tips for Adding Tank Mates

Once your Red Devil Cichlid has established their domain, it can be a nightmare trying to add new fish. That’s why it’s best to add new fish all at the same time before one fish can lay claim to the entire tank.

They also need to all be at a size where they can’t eat each other. If one fish is significantly larger than the other at any point in time, there’s a good chance that they’ll end up as lunch.

Finally, if you are trying to add a tank mate to an established tank, it’s a good idea to completely redecorate to try to level the playing field. If your Red Devil Cichlid thinks that they’re in a new tank, they’ll have to re-establish their territory.

Setting Up Your Tank for Success

While the Red Devil Cichlid might not enjoy spending time with other fish, that doesn’t mean they need a wide-open environment. In fact, just the opposite is ideal.

Driftwood, plants, rocks, decorations, and more are all great decorations. More stuff in the tank gives your Red Devil Cichlid more places to hide. Just keep in mind that Red Devil Cichlids will tear up most plants, so you’ll need to be selective about what you add. Good choices include java moss, hornwort, and anubias. Since cichlids don’t like the taste of these plants, they’re generally safe in your aquarium.

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The last thing that you want when adding tank mates to an aquarium is to check out your tank the next day only to find the remains of the new addition. Therefore, adding tank mates to a Red Devil Cichlid aquarium isn’t a good idea for beginners, and you need to ensure that you have plenty of space for them to live together.

A 200-gallon aquarium is the minimum size for tank mates for a Red Devil Cichlid, and even then, if you don’t know what you’re doing, there can be problems. Still, with the right fish and a bit of patience, there’s no reason that you can’t have a few beautiful fish coexisting in the same aquarium!

Featured Image Credit: Mircea Costina, Shutterstock

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